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Mark Herman's Wargaming Blog
Thursday, 9 April 2015
What is history?
Topic: Empire of the Sun

I have written on this topic before in my c3i Clio’s corner, but the conjunction of an interesting thread I found on line and the release of the 2nd Edition of Empire of the Sun moved me to want to write up some of my thoughts on ‘historical realism’ in my Empire of the Sun design. As a disclaimer I believe that it is a truism of the Internet that facts and data never change anyone’s opinion once publically stated. I write this for my own purposes as an archive of my thoughts and for the few people who read this blog. I also do not want to embarrass anyone or make these comments appear personal, so I will not state the source of various comments other than to say that I post them without edits exactly the way they were posted. They are there not to start an argument, but as a source for discussion.

 

 

First off for those who do not know me here are some of my bona fide’s as an historian. I have an undergraduate degree in History and a Masters in National Security Policy from Georgetown University that had a strong emphasis on Political-Military history. Beyond that I have taught Military Strategy and Policy for the Naval War College and Georgetown University. As an historical simulation designer with well over fifty published designs (see my Bibliography on this site), I have done decades of original historical research that I have published in books, in games, and on this website. As a gamer, historical verisimilitude is extremely important to me in any design that I play often and I play Empire of the Sun continuously. My point is if I did not think Empire of the Sun was an accurate simulation of the Pacific War I would have changed it before publication and certainly would have done something about it over the last 10 years. Truth be told, EotS meets all of my personal standards for historical accuracy that I contend are a high bar.

 

Empire of the Sun (hereafter EotS) is not a beginners game, so it automatically plays to a small segment of the wargame market. That said, the biggest hurtle to playing EotS is it is not a game that is easy to play well. What is the point of playing a game often if skill does not matter? As most gamers these days do not play a game more than a couple of times it can appear inaccessible unless some desire to play regularly is engendered by ones early experience with the design. This is an important point as some of the comments that follow fall into two buckets. Comments attributed to bad history but are really poor player skill with this design and those that directly challenge the game’s history based on incorrect statements of historical fact. The 2nd edition of EotS comes with a new solitaire system that I believe will act as an interactive tutorial on how to play well. Hopefully this will lower the barrier for early enjoyment of this design.

 

To be fair some of the commenters while tough on the design said very flattering things about me, so I know that their views are not personal and I do not take them that way, so no acrimony should be implied from my commentary.

 

 

 

I have attempted to integrate comments from a long thread into a shorter coherent set of comments that capture the intent, although I did not edit any of the words to include various misspellings or sentence structure, I just co-located pieces of the same point from different commentators into one place.

 

Comments are in italics, my response is in non-italic type.

 

A Cylon who attempted to learn about the Pacific War, by watching game of EOTS would learn:

 

- The Japanese were very careful to avoid taking more Allied objectives than absolutely necessary. This would lead to a high chance of Allied war weariness.

 

This first point is not an historical one as much as it is a lack of experience with the playing the game. This comment came out soon after release and continues to be discussed as if it’s a fact. My reply is based on over a decade of public online gaming and tournament play at WBC where this has been tried. This strategy with even a modicum of skill always fails. In fact the Japanese lose the game quicker. So, this comment is not an historical comment as much as it’s a lack of game knowledge comment.

 

The interesting historical point is the conquest of the Solomon’s and New Guinea beyond Rabaul and Lae were based on a series of Army-Navy conferences that began on March 7th and continued through June of 1942. This outer perimeter defense concept (invasion of New Hebrides, Fiji, and Samoa) was a compromise after the Army blocked the IJNs plans for the conquest of the Hawaiian Islands and occupation of Northern Australia. The main point is my research for a game has to go beyond what is written in a narrative history, but has to captured what are plausible ‘what ifs’. A ‘what if’ for me are those options that were historically discussed and not executed. The IJNs defeat at Midway caused the cancellation of the offensive into Fiji and Samoa. So, not extending the Japanese perimeter beyond Rabula was a path discussed but not chosen.

 

- The operational tempo of the Japanese fleet had little to do with their own fuel supplies or maintenance resources, but was instead determined by the Allied fuel and logistical capabilties.

 

EotS is not my first Pacific rodeo. Some may recall my earlier Pacific War game where I also did extensive fuel and operations tempo analysis. That experience gave me a rich body of data and experience upon which to draw from when I designed EotS. What may not be well known is the first thing I did when I began designing this game was to play my third Pacific War campaign game (the first two occurred when I did the original). Based on that play through I reviewed all of my original research and supplemented it with additional data based on new books and material that had been published over 15 years, not yet available in the early 1980’s.

 

The Japanese fought six major offensives with high operations tempo in the Bismarck barrier throughout 1942 and 1943. In 1944 the Japanese were prepared to throw the fleet at any USN attack on their inner perimeter. They had developed numerous options, but the key-planning feature was a shortage of carrier air not fuel. This resulted in two major sorties (Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf) that resulted in the destruction of the IJN. I also discovered through research (Prados) that there were several fleet sorties, to include the BB Yamato that did not lead to battle. In these situation the fleet put to sea but it was too far away from the invasion to intervene, hence the operation was cancelled, but not before lots of fuel was used. All of these factors went into a model.

 

One of the interesting facts is while the Japanese suffered extreme fuel shortages; the major impact was felt in the civilian economy. The military always had first call on fuel resources and while they were always a consideration in their planning I can find no instance where operations, especially counteroffensives, were curtailed or cancelled due to fuel shortages. The reality is there was a fuel shortage in Japan due to the loss of oilers to US submarines, but not in the amount of fuel available at its source. This is why the Japanese fleet eventually moves closer to the source of fuel in the Dutch East Indies, something that occurs naturally in the game as augmented by an event card. While using unrefined crude oil levies a maintenance penalty on the ships, the Allied air-naval die roll modifiers for the late war in some part account for this performance penalty.

 

The result of this analysis was a model of historical operations tempo as a collective metric for sortie rate, historical fuel consumption and maintenance capability. I ran this model through a Monte Carlo set of simulation runs and the result was that the Japanese consistently ran out of forces before they could exceed the bounds of their fuel constraints or historical sortie rate. This was confirmed by game testing and a decade of matches that demonstrated if the Japanese player attempted a higher than historical tempo of operation they ran out of navy faster than occurred historically naturally capping the number of sorties and fuel required. If the Japanese player played more of a guerre de course strategy they were using fuel at a lower than historical rate across a larger number of small sorties. If they husbanded their assets for a late war showdown, again they were using less fuel than they did historically. My point is the EotS model in the aggregate captures the Japanese sortie rate bounded by combat attrition and historical operations tempo.  

 

These points aside, some folks like to micro manage fuel points and the like. My design goal was to create a strategic model of the Pacific War that integrated most of the key operational factors in a more streamlined manner. For some this is too abstract and for them I designed Pacific War where you keep track of this stuff.

 

- Japanese military capabilities included seizure of the Hawaiian Islands, Northern Australian, and Ceylon as well as creating enough political unrest in India to cause them to successfully revolt against the British

 

One area of WWII history that continues to fascinate me are the minutes and commentary on the big strategy meetings such as the one held in Japan on March 7th, 1942. The Japanese navy wanted to invade the Hawaiian Islands and Northern Australia. Plans had been drawn up that were logistically challenging, but at least on paper were considered feasible. The Army would not support either of these operations, but that was a matter of inter-service politics not capability. For an extensive history of Japan’s plans for invading the Hawaiian Islands a recent book not available to me when I did this game confirms my earlier conclusions (John J. Stephens, Hawaii Under the Rising Sun). So to make the point that this was beyond Japanese capabilities stands in opposition to the view of elements of the Navy staff. Hayashi’s ‘Kogun’ makes the case that an Australian campaign required more logistics than the Navy thought was required and the Army could provide. The fact was those logistics were available to the Army, but they would not release them from what they considered higher priorities. This makes my point that this was more an issue of military politics than logistic potential.

 

As far as India is concerned there are a host of books that I read that go into great detail on how the Army viewed the value of Bose and Indian unrest in achieving their goal of closing the last supply route supporting Chungking. So, not much to say on this point other than there is a significant body of literature that I read in the Georgetown library that is the source of how this is treated in the game.

 

- Japanese ability to strategically deploy hundreds of thousands of troops and their equipment was not hindered by the fact that virtually their entire merchant marine was destroyed by Allied airpower and submarines.

 

I have a table taken from the US Strategic Bomber survey that shows with some precision the amount of merchant shipping possessed by the Japanese for every month of the war. Broadly the Japanese started the war with 6 million tons of merchant shipping which was augmented by 1.2 million tons of captured Allied shipping. The Japanese had sufficient merchant shipping to move their ground forces around until 1945 and even then they were able to reinforce Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa. In one month a merchant ship can generally get from anywhere on the map to another location. In a four month turn, even accounting for attrition there is sufficient shipping to administratively move forces around. This does not say that the civilian economy was unaffected, but the Army controlled their own shipping and they set the priorities. The short pole in the Japanese tent was less merchant shipping but oil tankers covered in my earlier remarks. 

 

-       The pre-war Japanese military was able to establish very large, high capacity, navel and air bases throughout the Pacific from which to combat Allied efforts to seize the islands upon which those bases were to be built by the Allies once the Allies seized them.

 

One thing I avoided in this design was extensive engineering rules. Even the Japanese could build an airfield within a four month game turn and the Seebees do not even break a sweat to accomplish the same thing. Another consideration is I integrated the US mobile fleet train into my infrastructure model. So, while the capture of Ulithi gives the US a base it is more a function of the anchorage in combination with the large number of auxiliary ships that make this possible. As far as the Japanese side goes, a large amount of the Japanese bases existed before the war or were captured fairly intact (Rabaul). In the end I chose to simplify this dimension of the game. The key is how I treat the auxiliary ships and US underway replenishment groups, floating dry docks, etc.

 

-       Really? It is exactly my issue with the game. In all the games I've seen, the US routinely suffers failed amphibious invasions, and the Japanese fleet retains operational and strategic mobility until the end of the war.

 

This issue has two dimensions, game play and scale. It is more or less mathematically impossible to fail an amphibious ground combat in EotS. If it occurs it is poor play and has nothing to do with the design. The simple rule of thumb is one Marine division will defeat a brigade, two Marine divisions will defeat a division, and three corps plus any size unit will defeat 2 divisions (full strength army). The only issue is not success or failure but how bloody the battle will be. So, the notion that this is a regular feature of the game is just not true if you have any idea how to play the game. So when somebody says that the majority of invasions succeeded in the Pacific this is true once you establish forces ashore and is fully supported by the design.

 

However, EotS is a strategic simulation. At the strategic level and the way EotS models offensives there were several failed invasions during the war to include Coral Sea and Midway. In both cases the intent of the attack was to culminate in an invasion, but in these two cases the transports were turned back when the naval battle was lost. These were major strategic failures and the rule whereby losing the air-naval battle precludes a landing captures the strategic nature of these failed invasion offensives.

 

-       If the major Allied operations cards come out wrong, the Allied player may have to run more risk, because simple math will not allow sufficient operational intensity. It is this part that I find worst about EOTS, because it simply makes no sense. What does it mean that "the major Allied operations cards come out wrong"? Those major operations were planned because they were seen as the key stepping stones on the path to victory, and therefore they were given the resources needed to succeed. The cards we find in the game were the things that were built to fit the order in which the cards were needed historically, not the other way round. (I'm aware that the official explanation is that "the cards you get represent the constraints that someone like Nimitz worked under" but having read extensively on the strategic planning in the Pacific, the constraints imposed by the cards do not seem to reflect that style of planning at all.)

 

One thing that I wrestled with was whether or not to name the cards for historical operations instead of labeling them large offensive, medium offensive, and small offensive. In the end leaving off the historical source of the card is like cooking without spices. As I have said innumerable times the cards are logistics and you can ignore the names if it bothers you, although that is like telling a jury to ignore the inadmissible evidence they just accidently heard. This is one of those if you do not want to see past the titles there is nothing I can say or do at this point that can change it other than to say I like it.

 

On the other hand the card decks are mathematically constructed. The order of the cards has no impact on strategy except in a fun way. There are times you may have to solve a military puzzle, but the Allies can have the cards come out in just about any order and they will have sufficient logistic resources to do anything they could do historically. The same goes for the Japanese in the opening. This has been demonstrated in numerous public online games under what are considered the worse conditions imagined by novices, such as over half a game with the Allies under ISR and the A-bomb still got dropped.

 

There are over 5 billion seven card hands possible in the 84 card Allied deck, so no amount of play testing could ever confirm this so I had to calculate all of this mathematically. The acid test that I got it right is I have played this game for over a decade online with a large crowd of participants, collected data on 11 years of WBC tournaments, ran one two-year online tournament and at no time has an experienced Allied player had insufficient resources over the course of any game turn to accomplish what needed to be accomplish. If you have not played this game more than once or twice you likely ran into a problem, but that is inexperience not a design issue. This comment is made often despite its inaccuracy, so it is what it is.

 

-       An EotS abstraction that threw me for a loop is the possibility of the Japanese shipping an entire army by sea to reinforce an invasion target during the invasion operation. IIRC, Mark explained it as US intelligence underestimating the size of the garrison. Well, um... I don't count that as an abstraction, but a distortion, in particular since the Japanese ship that army when they know the operation is already happening. Mark explained it as US intelligence underestimating the size of the garrison. Which, not to belabor a point, but as far as I know never happened during the actual War..... I mean, really, missing a Corps+ (!) on a island <10 mi^2?

 

There are two pieces to this comment. First, you can only react with one division (~15,000 soldiers), never a Corps or Army.  This is an important factual error for what follows.

 

One of the important features of the EotS design and my earlier Pacific War is I treat intelligence as a central feature in both games. While most games usually only look at the Midway phenomena that is seen as an Allied advantage there was a flip side of notable failures. I researched how many Japanese defenders were believed to be present for all of the major invasions during the war, such as Bougainville, Peleliu, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Philippines. In all of these cases the intelligence estimate was off by at least 15,000 soldiers, one division. In the case of the Philippines the estimate was off by 250,000 soldiers. This data is not hard to find, so it is easy to validate.

 

The Japanese were very competent and it was not hard for them to anticipate the likely locations for the next US offensive. In most cases the reason that the intelligence estimate was off is the Japanese reinforced the island proximate to the invasion. The Allies for the most part relied on photographic intelligence to estimate troop strengths based on a formula of visual clues. The problem was the Japanese got very good at overhead cover discipline and they were excellent tunnel engineers. This made estimating the size of the garrison an art more than a science. There is a reason that Peleliu and Saipan were estimated to be 3 day operations and instead took almost a month.

 

The one fly in this ointment is the method by which I chose to incorporate this intelligence feature. The reaction move of a division while the invasion force is already at that location is a mechanistic abstraction that can be visually tough to reconcile. I did not want to have people writing stuff down on paper, etc. and the method chosen works quite smoothly with the other elements of the design. This is one of those that you either buy the abstraction or play another game.

 

Conclusion

I think that covers the main points I wanted to cover. I want to reiterate I appreciate the commentary and the fact that the individuals played the game to form an opinion and stated it so I could continue to refine my thinking on this topic. I hope that I have protected the anonymity of the commentators for it is not my intention to start a feud. They are only saying what others have said before, but I had the time and the inclination to write my thoughts down. As I stated in the opening this is being posted in my blog so I can archive my own thoughts and what I have written will not change any opinions that already exist either for or against this design of mine. All I can say is I am really looking forward to continuing to play this design with the new 2nd edition.

 

Enjoy,

 

Mark Herman

NYC


Posted by markherman at 9:46 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 April 2015 10:15 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Opening with a weak Japanese hand under ISR
Topic: Empire of the Sun

A question that I get asked more than most is how to successfully start a game ('42 campaign) with a weak Japanese hand. I have written about this here before (easiest to sort on strategy posts), but the variant on this question is how to do this while also suffering from ISR. So, here is a short set of guidelines that I use that will hopefully get a new player over the worst of this issue if you do not have the time to work it out over the board.

 

These guidelines assume that you are trying to capture the DEI on the opening turn. As seen from our extensive collection of CSW games over the last 5 years there are other ways to open the game, but for purposes of answering this question I will focus on a core set of moves to capture the DEI and see what remains in the JP opening fuel tank for other conquests.

 

An important point to note is the Japanese is always assured on offensive event in their opening hand and the first Japanese card play is always under Central Agreement sans ISR. We have been playing a continuous series of 'staff' games over on CSW for the last 5+ years and what follows has been successfully accomplished in team and individual play, so this is not theory but battle tested tactics. 

 

The key to the weak Japanese opening hand and being under ISR after the opening JP attack is the South Seas Brigade with the CA Aoba out of Rabaul. First a quick review, when ISR is imposed on the JP in the opening they have their ASPs (Amphibious Shipping Points) reduced in half to 4 from the original 7. The South Seas Brigade (hereafter SS Bde) using the CA Aoba as organic transport does not require any ASPs. The SS Bde is capable of defeating any Dutch Regiment garrisoning a resource hex, so aggressive use of the SS Bde is the main element in an opening that is hobbled by a halving of your ASPs.

 

My preferred opening card always focuses on gaining air superiority over Manila and Singapore and if I only have one offensive event I usually use it on my opening play. I try if possible to use a CA in my opening attack so it can PBM to Miri and link up with the SNLF Bde at that location. 

 

Once that is accomplished I then use the six strength SS brigade with CA Aoba organic transport to capture several of the Dutch resource hexes to conserve ASPs. The basic idea is you use a 3OC card to send the SS Bde to Tarakan with air support giving a 90% of success and then use it later on to take Balikpapan. I use the SNLF Bde out of Miri to take Soerbaja. I use an ASP to capture Batavia (adjacent to the strongly held Tjilatjap) then ship into the captured port larger Army units for an overland attack on Tjilatjap. Landing a division in Bangka, Sumatra (1 ASP) allows a later overland attack to capture Palembang. This leaves the capture of Medan, Sumatra to a 2OC move from Balikpapan with the SS Bde. 

 

So summarizing, the SS Bde captures Tarkan (3OC), Balikpapan (1OC), Medan (2OC) leaving the capture of Soerbaja for the Miri SNLF on a 2OC. Capturing these four hexes in this manner costs zero ASPs. The capture of Batavia, and Banka requires 2 ASP. This would leave the JP with 2 ASP (under ISR) for other adventures. The difficulty with a weak hand under ISR for me is not ASPs, but battle hex limitations. 

 

Now no plan survives the first shot, so view this as a template, not a formula, but hopefully this gives you a more tactical explanation on how to take the DEI and still have logistic energy to take a couple of other locations. Also, remember that spending a few activations in Burma in the opening turn can have long range benefits and does not require any ASPs. It is how you use the remainder of your remaining resources not used in the first turn capture of the DEI that shapes your strategy going forward. 

 

Lastly, this is not the only way to successfully open the game as the Japanese, just a demonstration on some key themes to consider when laboring under the twin obstacles of a weak hand and early ISR.

 

Happy Holidays all,

 

Mark


Posted by markherman at 10:04 AM EST
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Opening with a weak Japanese hand under ISR
Topic: Empire of the Sun
A question that I get asked more than most is how to successfully start a game ('42 campaign) with a weak Japanese hand. I have written about this here before (easiest to sort on strategy posts), but the variant on this question is how to do this while also suffering from ISR. So, here is a short set of guidelines that I use that will hopefully get a new player over the worst of this issue if you do not have the time to work it out over the board.

These guidelines assume that you are trying to capture the DEI on the opening turn. As seen from our extensive collection of CSW games over the last 5 years there are other ways to open the game, but for purposes of answering this question I will focus on a core set of moves to capture the DEI and see what remains in the JP opening fuel tank for other conquests.

An important point to note is the Japanese is always assured on offensive event in their opening hand and the first Japanese card play is always under Central Agreement sans ISR. We have been playing a continuous series of 'staff' games over on CSW for the last 5+ years and what follows has been successfully accomplished in team and individual play, so this is not theory but battle tested tactics. 

The key to the weak Japanese opening hand and being under ISR after the opening JP attack is the South Seas Brigade with the CA Aoba out of Rabaul. First a quick review, when ISR is imposed on the JP in the opening they have their ASPs (Amphibious Shipping Points) reduced in half to 4 from the original 7. The South Seas Brigade (hereafter SS Bde) using the CA Aoba as organic transport does not require any ASPs. The SS Bde is capable of defeating any Dutch Regiment garrisoning a resource hex, so aggressive use of the SS Bde is the main element in an opening that is hobbled by a halving of your ASPs.

My preferred opening card always focuses on gaining air superiority over Manila and Singapore and if I only have one offensive event I usually use it on my opening play. I try if possible to use a CA in my opening attack so it can PBM to Miri and link up with the SNLF Bde at that location. 

Once that is accomplished I then use the six strength SS brigade with CA Aoba organic transport to capture several of the Dutch resource hexes to conserve ASPs. The basic idea is you use a 3OC card to send the SS Bde to Tarakan with air support giving a 90% of success and then use it later on to take Balikpapan. I use the SNLF Bde out of Miri to take Soerbaja. I use an ASP to capture Batavia (adjacent to the strongly held Tjilatjap) then ship into the captured port larger Army units for an overland attack on Tjilatjap. Landing a division in Bangka, Sumatra (1 ASP) allows a later overland attack to capture Palembang. This leaves the capture of Medan, Sumatra to a 2OC move from Balikpapan with the SS Bde. 

So summarizing, the SS Bde captures Tarkan (3OC), Balikpapan (1OC), Medan (2OC) leaving the capture of Soerbaja for the Miri SNLF on a 2OC. Capturing these four hexes in this manner costs zero ASPs. The capture of Batavia, and Banka requires 2 ASP. This would leave the JP with 2 ASP (under ISR) for other adventures. The difficulty with a weak hand under ISR for me is not ASPs, but battle hex limitations. 

Now no plan survives the first shot, so view this as a template, not a formula, but hopefully this gives you a more tactical explanation on how to take the DEI and still have logistic energy to take a couple of other locations. Also, remember that spending a few activations in Burma in the opening turn can have long range benefits and does not require any ASPs. It is how you use the remainder of your remaining resources not used in the first turn capture of the DEI that shapes your strategy going forward. 

Lastly, this is not the only way to successfully open the game as the Japanese, just a demonstration on some key themes to consider when laboring under the twin obstacles of a weak hand and early ISR.

Happy Holidays all,

Mark

    Posted by markherman at 10:02 AM EST
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    Sunday, 11 April 2010
    How to simulate intelligence failure in an historical wargame
    Topic: Empire of the Sun

    One of the healthy debates that continues in the wargaming community is what does or does not make a particular game an historical simulation. A challenge that a designer faces is the uneven knowledge across the community on what is factual information or myth based on earlier game designs. A case in point is a key Empire of the Sun sub-system whereby intelligence about enemy dispositions is determined.

     

    It should be obvious that if two players are sitting at the same map and moving their pieces that both sides have an extraordinarily clear picture of where the enemy forces are located. Many designs try to handle the 'fog of war' in many ways, but in the end the visual clues of counters, whether real or 'dummy' counters, does indicate where enemy forces are located, but even more importantly where they are not located.

     

    As I have predominantly worked in manual games you need to work within your medium. It is an inescapable fact that the pieces on the board have to be somewhere that is visible to both players without creating some elaborate double blind system that tends to bog down play with its resultant feeling of tedium. I look at this issue not as a problem but a feature of manual games and I work with it as a strength if properly incorporated into a design. 

     

    When I designed Empire of the Sun I wanted to simulate the 'fog of war' in a very different manner. I went for what I will call the 'empty' map where you see forces, but their location is intended to be imprecise. I see the piece locations as an abstract electron cloud where the precise location of the electrons is only known when you closely observe them at a particular instance.

     

    What this means in practical play is once the location of the offensive forces move to an objective fixing their relative location to an objective, the opposing or reaction player then determines where his forces are located for that series of battles initiated by the offensive player. Within this concept resides the ability to have ground forces at the objective despite the fact that the offensive player thought it was undefended or less defended than it appeared when the offensive began.

     

    The reason that this is important to a Pacific War design, although it would reasonably apply to any campaign in history, is the historical accounts are replete with examples that the Allies were usually incorrect as to the size and composition of Island defenses. This inability to understand the true nature of the Japanese defenses was an important historical feature of the conflict and one that is simulated in Empire of the Sun. Here is a link to a primary source document that demonstrates my point.

     

    http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20highlights/WWIIpacific/Battle%20Experience%20-%20Marianas.pdf

     

    If you get a chance to look this document over note this little gem buried in the text. 

     

    Pg 74-4: "The enemy ground strength was considerably in excess of what was expected, sizeable reenforcements having arrived in the Marianas just prior to our attack." 

     

    This is EXACTLY what is being simulated when you make a reaction amphibious move with the Japanese in response to an Allied offensive. The reality being simulated is the Japanese ground unit was already on the Allied objective before it began.

     

    However, mechanically this is hard to do with physical pieces on a board if you execute the historical actions in a time linear manner. What I did in Empire of the Sun is the Allied player in this example is forced to launch his offensive with uncertain knowledge. The Allies are aware of what the potential Japanese dispositions may be at the time of the offensive, but needs to apply a risk profile for the attack and plan accordingly. This is what the real commanders faced during the war. Depending on player style you tend to either accept a great deal of risk or send more than you will need, which is exactly the debate that repeated itself throughout the war.

     

    The mechanic in the game reverses the actual sequence of events to hide the Japanese intentions until the Allies are committed to their attack. It is at this time that through the reaction mechanic the Allied player finds out what was really at the objective all of the time, but without the Japanese player having to go through an elaborate paper driven planning process. Let's face it, lots of paperwork is not fun in real life or in a wargame. The net effect of the mechanic is player behavior and thinking begins to approximate what occurred during the war. 

     

    <sarcastic mode on> Although as many of the 'experts' on the various boards tell me Empire of the Sun is not a very good historical simulation because of subsystems like this as it is too 'gamey'. So, please note, this historical primary source quote, not their opinion, must be wrong.</sarcastic mode off> 

     

    Excuse my sarcasm, but this goes directly to my earlier comment that while we have a solid tradition of debate in the wargaming community many voices in the debate know far less than they really know. But that is the nature of a democracy, so you take the good with the bad.

     

    Mark


    Posted by markherman at 8:26 AM EDT
    Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2010 8:43 AM EDT
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    Thursday, 1 April 2010
    More EoTS Discussion
    Topic: Empire of the Sun
    Phil,
    First off this is an interesting discussion, so I am happy to continue, but
    understand I do not expect you to convert to the faithful, although at some
    point CV may realized that he has been wasting his time with all that English
    Civil War nonsense and see the light. I apologize for its length, so CV and
    others please ignore this and move on. In point of fact I need to get into a
    game of UKC soon as I want to play a good game for a change instead of this
    tripe that I have been designing. &#9786;
    I want to take your comments in a slightly different order as I think it will be
    a more succinct reply although too long by half. You state that you like how
    FITS handles air-naval. I agree with that since EoTS does not examine air-naval
    combat at the Operational-Grand Tactical level. I think this is a significant
    point. FITS, AE, PacFleet, and East Wind Rain are all the same kind of game.
    They are one-map Operational level games with some blend of strategic (oil) and
    tactical factors (air phases, surface combat phases, torpedoes and the like). 
    The reason that these games have an involved air-naval combat set of procedures
    is that each of these designs is centered on the carrier-carrier battle. That's
    fine, but it perpetuates a wargame myth about the Pacific War that it was
    dominated by these kinds of engagement. There were 6 carrier-carrier battles
    during the entire Pacific War, four of which are in 1942. As a player I
    personally do not like having to play out a tactical battle board procedure
    every time there is a naval encounter because of six, albeit very exciting,
    carrier battles. When I want to play carrier battles I play flattop one of my
    all time favorite games.
    On the other hand carriers are essential to offensive operations in the war and
    this is their major impact in EoTS. Supporting this is the fact that the Pacific
    war was an air war. I continued to be amused and confused by the claims of
    accurate PacWar OBs, when except for EoTS they treat the land based air portion
    as air points of specific aircraft types. That is an operational-tactical view
    of airpower. At the strategic level it is about the 13th AF and the Offensives
    they are supporting not abstract airpoints.
    When I sat down to design EoTS I wanted a strategic game focused on the Theater
    commander level. I wanted to fight a war where the senior leadership gave me
    some basic guidance and logistics and let me execute that strategic plan.
    Nimitz, MacArthur, Mountbatten, etc. did not deal with torpedo planes, but
    resourced offensives. Air-Naval combat is a necessary function that needs to
    occur so we can figure out who is winning the war, not the battle. Another
    design abstraction is the location of forces is not very important other than
    what battle they are committed to. This is very much out of the mainstream and
    has confused many, although players did not trust the rules. For me that has
    been a big problem with EoTS. Folks do not want to accept what they say because
    it is too different from what they expect. And it seems no one can follow the
    sequence of play.
    So comparing EoTS to any of the above games is an apples and oranges discussion.
    They are at their heart different types of designs. One of the unstated
    frustrations that people have with EoTS is it is not an operational one map game
    masquerading as a strategic game, but a strategic game that eschews lower
    echelon decisions. I make no apologies for that as that is what I was going for.
    At the same time having someone tell me that they like how one of the
    aforementioned games has a better treatment of air-naval combat misses the point
    that EoTS does not deal with air-naval combat per se, but strategic offensives.
    So, when I see this comment it is no wonder that you do not like EoTS because it
    is not the type of game you want to play even though it is a one map Pacific
    game.

    So given these points, you wrote, "I agree with your assessment. But the naval
    portion feels more accurate due to the oil points (which Asia Engulfed cleverly
    copied, so what do you think about AE?).

    Due to how FITS treats ground combat, which you agree with, I cannot play FITS
    anymore and prefer USN over all of the newer games in this genre. I have not
    played AE, so I have no opinion, except to say that each time I pick up the AE
    rules and see the battle board operational treatment of the war, I put it away
    and play EoTS.
    I will lump the remainder of your questions into a broad answer. You wrote: "How
    about what you see in many games, the Japanese player keeping his reaction
    forces scattered? I think it's more of a 1943 issue than later. Is there any
    real benefit to keep your forces concentrated?" Usually, Truk is in range
    beginning of 1943, after the US has captured Buna and Lae, isn't it? Correct,
    but attacking with Navy only is a risky business in 1943 for the Allied player.
    I begin to feel that my many attempts to play EotS were not far enough into the
    game?

    Let's first discuss the history, because at the root of the criticism of EoTS is
    the notion that it plays ahistorically. Said another way it fails as an
    historical simulation. Obviously I disagree and I also do not care to change
    anyone's mind. CVs and others comments indicate that they also agree, so I write
    this as an answer to a question, but it is one that I have written to many times
    and I expect the same result. Let's take the 1943 set up as an historical
    moment.
    Truk has 5 naval units and is as large a fleet concentration as the Japanese had
    anywhere and at any time during the war. Rabaul has 3 CA and lighter units with
    3 more at Kure. This represents the entire IJN in 1943. There are two schools of
    thought on the best way to deploy the IJN fleet, concentrated and dispersed. All
    I can say is if you go for dispersed (viewed as ahistorical) you will have your
    IJN fleet destroyed in pieces and accelerate the Allied timetable whereas
    keeping it concentrated makes it very hard to destroy or severely damage until
    the Allies get a major delivery of Essex class carriers in late '43 to'44. In my
    view, this makes it obvious that concentrated (historical) is the only way to
    go, but it is not dictated by the system, you just lose the fleet faster if you
    disperse. In my mind historical deployments are followed not due to rules, but
    due to desired outcome.
    The same situation prevails for ISR where you do not have to segregate your army
    and navy assets for either side, but if you do not you will find yourself tied
    up in knots. So, again no rules to make you do smart things, but smart things
    work much better. As you point out Truk is in range of Buna at the beginning of
    1943, but note that the Allies are also under Interservice Rivalry, so they
    cannot coordinate the land based air assets with their weak naval assets. This
    is the period of time when the Army and the Navy are going their own way, so
    Truk remains a viable naval base, but just barely. A design is more than its
    separate parts, so it is the combination of command control issues and assets
    that prevents the Allies from taking advantage of the situation. Once ISR is
    lifted the fleet base is still somewhat secure from direct attack, but will have
    its operations hampered by having its infrastructure wrecked (see monograph).
    Once this becomes evident it is time to move the fleet back as they did
    historically, without any special rules. I wrote an entire article in c3i on the
    1943 scenario, so all of the nuances of how to play this scenario well are
    available in deep detail.
    Regarding PoW victories, they happen, but not once during any of the CSW team
    games. I have found that it is a claim made by folks who do not play much and if
    you do not know how to respond it can happen. I would also note that I won a
    team match while spending much of the war with a very negative WiE situation and
    ISR, which supposedly an automatic Allied defeat situation. The real issue is
    the morale of many players breaks when they are in this situation, but that just
    shows they are wimps.
    Mark


    --- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com, Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@...>
    wrote:
    >
    > Good points, let me address them a bit.
    >
    > 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@...>
    >
    > >
    > >
    > > We now are descending down into how to play well, which I am happy to
    > > address. But it is clear that you have not played in a while. The notion of
    > > scattering your fleet to avoid pinning, does not work well in the game
    > > because it allows the JP fleet to be defeated piecemeal.
    > >
    >
    > How about what you see in many games, the Japanese player keeping his
    > reaction forces scattered? I think it's more of a 1943 issue than later. Is
    > there any real benefit to keep your forces concentrated?
    >
    > > I have no problem defeating a JP player who plays this way, so I'm good
    > > with it. What I do is keep three or four concentrations of ships, which was
    > > the historical deployment. A Japanese concentration of three or four JP
    > > naval units is a large concentration of ships in EoTS and as big a
    > > concentration as the JP usually had at any one fleet base like Truk. The
    > > monograph I wrote is about Truk, so to avoid repeating what I wrote there,
    > > another game myth is Truk. Truk was abandoned by the JP, because it was in
    > > range of Allied bombers at the beginning of February 1944 because of its
    > > vulnerability to US air power. When that happens in EoTS varies by the
    > > situation, but once it does occur you need to move the JP fleet back to
    > > Palau, which is what they did historically.
    > >
    > Usually, Truk is in range beginning of 1943, after the US has captured Buna
    > and Lae, isn't it?
    >
    >
    > > The other issue is Interservice rivalry. You can only do the smothering
    > > operations that you speak of when their is central agreement, otherwise you
    > > cannot coordinate in the same manner.
    > >
    > Correct, but attacking with Navy only is a risky business in 1943 for the
    > Allied player. I begin to feel that my many attempts to play EotS were not
    > far enough into the game?
    >
    >
    > > Again every game plays out differently, so there is no common way to handle
    > > the situation each time. Lastly, there is the issue of the JP fleet reacting
    > > to every allied offensive. So which is it, it is either pinned or it is not.
    > > It has been my personal experience with playing the game that what you speak
    > > of is theoretical not practical. In my games the ships get sunk, so if the
    > > JP is using their fleet to react to every Allied move, they tend to not have
    > > it very long. Even a poor rolling Allied player by late '43 has more than
    > > enough naval factors to make this a short lived strategy.
    > >
    > Indeed, but what about up until then? Progress of War is needed early on.
    > So, how many PoW losses the Allies can afford?
    >
    >
    > > But let me ask a question in return Fire in the Sky, which I believe you
    > > like better. Or someone else said that several posts back. One of the big
    > > issues in a strategic Pacific game is the JP strategy for inflicting heavy
    > > Allied ground casualties to bring the US to the negotiating table. On the
    > > Allied side it was a bloody business to take the various islands and in the
    > > end it was the bloodbath of Okinawa that contributed to the expanding
    > > estimates of anticipated casualties for invading Japan that made the A-bomb
    > > decision an easy call.
    > >
    > > So, with that preamble, when you play FiTS and you invade an island once
    > > you get past the air-naval stuff and you hit the beach there is NO
    > > possibility of taking any land casualties for the attacker. Now in EoTS
    > > invading an island is a major Nimitz level decision, but when I play FITS
    > > and I have the ships no worries as the Marines are not going get hurt, so
    > > not much pressure there. And yes I know you can lose in the counterattack
    > > during the next JP turn, but if you send sufficient ground forces you never
    > > lose anyone. For me that was a an interesting way to portray ground combat,
    > > but it does have oil points.
    > >
    > I agree with your assessment. But the naval portion feels more accurate due
    > to the oil points (which Asia Engulfed cleverly copied, so what do you think
    > about AE?).
    >
    >
    > > Anyway, check out my various articles in c3i on JP strategy where I
    > > specifically deal with how to deploy fleets and such.
    > >
    > > Over to you... :-)
    > >
    >
    >
    > >
    > > Mark
    > >
    > > --- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
    > > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
    > > >
    > > > I appreciate this conversation very much! Trust me, I still harbour good
    > > > feelings for EotS and I am not ready to give up as there are lots of good
    > > > things in the game.
    > > >
    > > > I am with you on historical grounds, but so far, what I have seen
    > > happening
    > > > is, that a typical Allied offensive involves activating the pinning
    > > forces
    > > > and then go in for the kill. This means, the Japanese player should
    > > rather
    > > > spread out his forces, isn't it? And if you keep a large stack in range
    > > of
    > > > Long Range air, you will not be able to react at all...granted, in 1943,
    > > > this does not happen too often as the Allied player will not have enough
    > > air
    > > > to always block you. But it happens.
    > > >
    > > > So, if I put a Long Range into Buna after having conquered it, you block
    > > > Truk. No big fleet there ever afterwards, if the Japanese player is not
    > > > stupid.
    > > >
    > > > But that's just the old pinning discussion. How about the oil issue (and
    > > > let's revisit that). Correct, the Japanese player sortied his big boys a
    > > few
    > > > times. In EotS, however, they not only threat you with an attack, they
    > > > occasionally do this. But, they can do it as a reaction to every card
    > > play
    > > > if interception occurs. Ok, you might say, it would be bad for the
    > > Japanese
    > > > player to sortie on every reaction but especially in 1943, the odds are
    > > > pretty even and the Allies are under immense pressure.
    > > >
    > > >
    > > > 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@>
    > >
    > > >
    > > > >
    > > > >
    > > > > Well you answered the question on oil as I would. It is why the
    > > Japanese
    > > > > start the game with 7 cards and by mid game or so are down to 4. Think
    > > of
    > > > > cards as oil points like in FiTS if you like points more than
    > > activations.
    > > > >
    > > > > As far as the Yamato moving around it did move around, but if the JP is
    > > > > sending it to a continuous stream of offensives/reactions, why is it
    > > not
    > > > > dead. Note that any naval unit loses a great deal of its value when it
    > > is on
    > > > > its reduced side, so the Allies need to wack it and then it stops
    > > moving
    > > > > around a lot. As far as the fact that the Yamato was very expensive in
    > > oil,
    > > > > which is the point that you are making, it did not matter so much once
    > > it
    > > > > was located near the oil.
    > > > >
    > > > > But here is where wargaming myth gets in the way of historical fact.
    > > The
    > > > > Japanese used the Yamato and the Mushahi as the centerpieces of several
    > > > > reactions in 1943 and in 1944 (Leyte). For example the Yamato sortied
    > > from
    > > > > Truk on September 18th with the Nagato in response to American raids.
    > > On
    > > > > October 17th the Mushahi with six battleships and carriers sortied from
    > > > > Truk. My point being is the Japanese did move the big boats out on
    > > several
    > > > > occasions to meet Allied attacks and they were always the centerpiece
    > > of all
    > > > > of the reaction forces. Sure it cost them lots of oil, but these
    > > movement
    > > > > had priority over mama san getting cooking oil. The home front
    > > suffered, but
    > > > > the fleet was moved when they wanted it to move. My advice in EoTS is
    > > if the
    > > > > JP are enamored with the Yamato focus hits on reducing the Yamato when
    > > it is
    > > > > used, once hit you will not see it again for at least 1 turn (4 months)
    > > and
    > > > > usually longer. It is usually only impressive once.
    > > > >
    > > > > As far as the 1943 scenario being a very tense scenario where one
    > > mistake
    > > > > costs you the game. What's wrong with a tense scenario, I thought that
    > > was
    > > > > the point of good gaming. The same could be said for a Japanese
    > > mistake.
    > > > > Each situation is unique in a game where based on probability you will
    > > not
    > > > > see the same hand twice in your lifetime. As they say in chess for
    > > every
    > > > > chess brilliancy there is a reciprocal chess blunder.
    > > > >
    > > > > But this is how all my EoTS conversations go. I do not expect you to
    > > change
    > > > > your views and quite frankly it does not bother me that you do not like
    > > the
    > > > > game. What you will find is I have lectured at the US Naval War College
    > > on
    > > > > this topic and I have studied it in great detail. Folks are always
    > > telling
    > > > > me that this is unrealistic and this is not historical, but I have
    > > reams of
    > > > > data that says that most of what I am hearing are wargame myths not
    > > concrete
    > > > > facts. EoTS is a strategic game not like all the other Pacific games
    > > > > mentioned (Pacific Fleet, Asia Engulfed, East Wind Rain, etc.) an
    > > > > operational game on one map. That is what I was going for and that is
    > > why I
    > > > > play it. Nimitz never concerned himself with air points and wave
    > > attacks
    > > > > etc., which are considered the standard for this type of game. EoTS
    > > goes its
    > > > > own way on purpose and is not everyones cup of tea. I am fine with
    > > that.
    > > > >
    > > > > But I love the debate...
    > > > >
    > > > >
    > > > > Mark
    > > > >
    > > > > --- In
    perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
    > > > > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
    > > > > >
    > > > > > I think the pinning issue is resolved (at least for me), but what
    > > about
    > > > > the
    > > > > > oil issue? I see that you argued many times that the cards display
    > > the
    > > > > > logistical limits on major movements by the Japanese, but it's often
    > > the
    > > > > > case in EotS that Yamato scurries around reacting to offensives. I
    > > find
    > > > > that
    > > > > > EotS especially in 1943 is brutally tough on the Allies, mostly one
    > > > > mistake
    > > > > > will cost you the game.
    > > > > >
    > > > > > 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@>
    > > > >
    > > > > >
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > That is the point these days. There are lots of games out there and
    > > > > many
    > > > > > > calls upon people's time. The fact that there is an active EoTS
    > > group
    > > > > is
    > > > > > > much better than most games have these days. Most games generate no
    > > > > long
    > > > > > > term enthusiasm so I am glad that EoTs still is actively played.
    > > The
    > > > > fact
    > > > > > > that a game does not reveal all of its mystery's immediately is a
    > > two
    > > > > edged
    > > > > > > sword. If it does not catch your fancy you move on because it is
    > > too
    > > > > much
    > > > > > > effort to play well, if it does you stay with it and the experience
    > > > > doesn't
    > > > > > > get old even after many playings. No free lunch there.
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > As far as the rules go, people deal with rules of games they want
    > > to
    > > > > play.
    > > > > > > I break out in hives when I think of ASL rules or most of the more
    > > > > popular
    > > > > > > CDGs and just about any of the magazine games. The ones on topics
    > > that
    > > > > I am
    > > > > > > interested in I deal with, if I am less interested then any set of
    > > > > rules is
    > > > > > > too much. My take is we all take in information differently and if
    > > a
    > > > > game
    > > > > > > has many nuances to add historical richness, which I wanted for
    > > EoTS,
    > > > > which
    > > > > > > makes the rules more involved. What I find is experienced gamers
    > > seem
    > > > > > > incapable of following the EoTS sequence of play. All wargames have
    > > > > > > sequences of play, so why is this one so hard. It is what it is.
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > As far as the wtf moments that you mention regarding 'pinning' of
    > > > > fleets
    > > > > > > all I can say is WTF! I wrote an entire monograph that anyone can
    > > get
    > > > > on my
    > > > > > > website about this very point with all of my research. It would
    > > have
    > > > > been
    > > > > > > easier to write a rule that states that historically fleets
    > > abandoned
    > > > > their
    > > > > > > anchorages when they were in range of enemy land based air. Of
    > > course
    > > > > then
    > > > > > > people would try and get around this rule. Instead I chose to
    > > > > incorporate it
    > > > > > > into the system. You do not have to move your fleet back, but if
    > > you
    > > > > choose
    > > > > > > to ignore the historical facts thats the players business. I just
    > > set
    > > > > the
    > > > > > > table, but if you want to eat your dessert first, go for it. The
    > > > > monograph
    > > > > > > comes with the post war interviews establishing their thinking on
    > > this
    > > > > > > topic. So, WTF...
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > Anyway, Washington's War is appealing to a broader audience due to
    > > its
    > > > > > > lower complexity. I went out of my way not to make the game more
    > > > > complex,
    > > > > > > just more interesting, at least for me. Over time I had issues with
    > > WTP
    > > > > that
    > > > > > > kept me from playing it. That has now been addressed in
    > > Washington's
    > > > > War and
    > > > > > > due to its short playing time it gets a lot of play around my
    > > house.
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > Break, break... One of the annoying things about Yahoo groups is I
    > > find
    > > > > it
    > > > > > > hard to get to the original message in a thread if it is set within
    > > a
    > > > > > > subthread etc. So to CV...
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > I may be a cheap bastard, but if you had asked, I would have been
    > > happy
    > > > > to
    > > > > > > send you a copy of Washington's War. One of the unfortunate aspects
    > > of
    > > > > my
    > > > > > > later years is I have lost the ability to read minds. And if you
    > > ever
    > > > > get to
    > > > > > > DC, I will buy you dinner.
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > Mark
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > --- In
    perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
    > > > >
    > > > > > > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
    > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > Thanks for your comments. I think Empire of the Sun suffers a bit
    > > due
    > > > > to
    > > > > > > the
    > > > > > > > fact that there is small group of excellent players giving you
    > > > > feedback
    > > > > > > > while leaving out the large rest of the gaming population. I do
    > > not
    > > > > doubt
    > > > > > > > that EotS is a great brain exercise and therefore, fun for some,
    > > but
    > > > > I
    > > > > > > fear
    > > > > > > > that most of the players like me are put off by the complexity
    > > and
    > > > > some
    > > > > > > > mechanisms which make sense after a dozen or so playings.
    > > Compared to
    > > > > the
    > > > > > > > easy approach Washington's War offers, one dreams about a similar
    > > > > playing
    > > > > > > > experience with EotS which it simply isn't.
    > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > 2010/3/31 markherman50 <MarkHerman@>
    > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > --- In
    perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > "Steve Crowley" <steve@> wrote:
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > Good news about Washingtons War - just arrived here and
    > > you've
    > > > > saved
    > > > > > > me a
    > > > > > > > > > job of getting out WtP to do a comparison.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > EoTS is a game I desperately want to like but every time I
    > > play
    > > > > it I
    > > > > > > get
    > > > > > > > > too
    > > > > > > > > > many wtf moments. The pinning of fleets (mentioned oft times
    > > > > here)
    > > > > > > just
    > > > > > > > > > doesn't seem right.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > Not everyone's cup of tea I know but I prefer Fire in the Sky
    > > at
    > > > > this
    > > > > > > > > level.
    > > > > > > > > > Of course, I'm still waiting for the reprint of Pacific
    > > Fleet.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > We should probably kidnap Mark and not release him until he
    > > has
    > > > > > > produced
    > > > > > > > > the
    > > > > > > > > > CDG game on the Pacific which we really want - and no remarks
    > > > > from CV
    > > > > > > and
    > > > > > > > > > LBW about EoTS being the game MH wanted to design if you
    > > please.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > From:
    perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > > > > > >
    [mailto:perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>]
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > On Behalf Of Philipp Klarmann
    > > > > > > > > > Sent: 28 March 2010 8:11 AM
    > > > > > > > > > To:
    perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > Subject: [perfidiousalbion] [Games] The Herman night
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > Two games of Mark Herman back to back, and it's certainly
    > > > > enlighting
    > > > > > > as
    > > > > > > > > we
    > > > > > > > > > go backwards in terms of the evolution of the CDG genre.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > The first half of the evening is spent setting up and playing
    > > > > through
    > > > > > > a
    > > > > > > > > turn
    > > > > > > > > > of Empire of the Sun's tournament 1943 scenario. Lot's of
    > > > > complicated
    > > > > > > > > rules,
    > > > > > > > > > intertwined with bean counting and hex counting, odd rules
    > > > > > > exceptions,
    > > > > > > > > most
    > > > > > > > > > cards appearing at the wrong time (just witness the cards
    > > that
    > > > > need
    > > > > > > to be
    > > > > > > > > > taken out in the scenario instructions, almost all card
    > > numbers
    > > > > are
    > > > > > > low)
    > > > > > > > > and
    > > > > > > > > > the US losing it's will to fight in 1943. Huh?
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > After so many tries, I consider this a valiant failure. It's
    > > over
    > > > > > > > > > complicated, ignores oil as the major factor in the naval
    > > warfare
    > > > > and
    > > > > > > > > > strategic consideration of the Japanese and forces in my
    > > opinion
    > > > > > > > > unrealistic
    > > > > > > > > > behaviours (just look at the Yamato BB running around). I
    > > know
    > > > > Mark
    > > > > > > > > defends
    > > > > > > > > > his game with vigour and it's, if you have understood the
    > > > > horrible
    > > > > > > rules
    > > > > > > > > > book, a brain exercise par excellence. But is it fun outside
    > > of a
    > > > > > > circle
    > > > > > > > > of
    > > > > > > > > > insiders and enlightened readers? The current playthrough in
    > > the
    > > > > CSW
    > > > > > > > > folder
    > > > > > > > > > sees the Philippine scouts landing in Korea for lack of Air
    > > ZOC
    > > > > in
    > > > > > > Japan.
    > > > > > > > > > Double huh? I think given time and effort spent to learn it
    > > to a
    > > > > > > degree
    > > > > > > > > of
    > > > > > > > > > perfection, I rather pull out another Pacific War title or
    > > Mark's
    > > > > > > older
    > > > > > > > > PW
    > > > > > > > > > title for a campaign.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > The second half of the evening is reserved for Washington's
    > > War.
    > > > > And,
    > > > > > > > > boy,
    > > > > > > > > > given the tedious exercise of the previous three hours, this
    > > game
    > > > > > > really
    > > > > > > > > > shines even more. It's fast, exciting, close and runs
    > > smoothly.
    > > > > The
    > > > > > > new
    > > > > > > > > > combat system is easy to learn and poses great trouble for
    > > the
    > > > > > > American
    > > > > > > > > > player so he is even more reluctant to go head-to-head
    > > against
    > > > > the
    > > > > > > > > British.
    > > > > > > > > > The British steamroll the coast but have troubles controlling
    > > the
    > > > > > > > > colonies.
    > > > > > > > > > A near perfect 10 for this redux of We the People. Better
    > > cards,
    > > > > > > better
    > > > > > > > > map,
    > > > > > > > > > better counters, tense gamplay, a must buy.
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > > No virus found in this incoming message.
    > > > > > > > > > Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
    > > > > > > > > > Version: 9.0.791 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/2775 - Release
    > > Date:
    > > > > > > 03/28/10
    > > > > > > > > > 07:32:00
    > > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > I have not been here in a while, good to see you got a chance
    > > to
    > > > > play
    > > > > > > > > Washington's War. It is not a reprint as you have already
    > > surmised.
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > As far as EoTS goes, its not everyones cup of tea, but I design
    > > the
    > > > > > > games
    > > > > > > > > that I want to play and this is the one that I play the most. I
    > > > > guess
    > > > > > > we
    > > > > > > > > have different tastes.
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > As far as the Philippine Scouts ending up in Korea, this is
    > > just
    > > > > part
    > > > > > > of my
    > > > > > > > > design philosophy. I could just write a rule that says you
    > > cannot
    > > > > do
    > > > > > > stupid
    > > > > > > > > things, but why bother. The first stupid thing was the Japanese
    > > > > emptied
    > > > > > > > > Japan of every air and naval unit. Would the real Japanese do
    > > that,
    > > > > no,
    > > > > > > but
    > > > > > > > > I hate writing garrison rules and other such nonsense. If they
    > > want
    > > > > to
    > > > > > > play
    > > > > > > > > badly let them. As a consequence there was nothing stopping the
    > > > > Allies
    > > > > > > from
    > > > > > > > > raiding the coast. The Allies are out of supply and will
    > > quickly
    > > > > > > disperse,
    > > > > > > > > so it is more about pissing off the Japanese.
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > Anyway, enjoy Washington's War...
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > > Mark
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > > >
    > > > > > > >
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > >
    > > > > > >
    > > > > >
    > > > >
    > > > >
    > > > >
    > > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    >

    Posted by markherman at 9:38 PM EDT
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    Wednesday, 31 March 2010
    EoTS Historical Debate
    Topic: Empire of the Sun
    Re: [Games] The Herman night

    Well you answered the question on oil as I would. It is why the Japanese start
    the game with 7 cards and by mid game or so are down to 4. Think of cards as oil
    points like in FiTS if you like points more than activations.

    As far as the Yamato moving around it did move around, but if the JP is sending
    it to a continuous stream of offensives/reactions, why is it not dead. Note that
    any naval unit loses a great deal of its value when it is on its reduced side,
    so the Allies need to wack it and then it stops moving around a lot. As far as
    the fact that the Yamato was very expensive in oil, which is the point that you
    are making, it did not matter so much once it was located near the oil.

    But here is where wargaming myth gets in the way of historical fact. The
    Japanese used the Yamato and the Mushahi as the centerpieces of several
    reactions in 1943 and in 1944 (Leyte). For example the Yamato sortied from Truk
    on September 18th with the Nagato in response to American raids. On October 17th
    the Mushahi with six battleships and carriers sortied from Truk. My point being
    is the Japanese did move the big boats out on several occasions to meet Allied
    attacks and they were always the centerpiece of all of the reaction forces. Sure
    it cost them lots of oil, but these movement had priority over mama san getting
    cooking oil. The home front suffered, but the fleet was moved when they wanted
    it to move. My advice in EoTS is if the JP are enamored with the Yamato focus
    hits on reducing the Yamato when it is used, once hit you will not see it again
    for at least 1 turn (4 months) and usually longer. It is usually only impressive
    once.

    As far as the 1943 scenario being a very tense scenario where one mistake costs
    you the game. What's wrong with a tense scenario, I thought that was the point
    of good gaming. The same could be said for a Japanese mistake. Each situation is
    unique in a game where based on probability you will not see the same hand twice
    in your lifetime. As they say in chess for every chess brilliancy there is a
    reciprocal chess blunder.

    But this is how all my EoTS conversations go. I do not expect you to change your
    views and quite frankly it does not bother me that you do not like the game.
    What you will find is I have lectured at the US Naval War College on this topic
    and I have studied it in great detail. Folks are always telling me that this is
    unrealistic and this is not historical, but I have reams of data that says that
    most of what I am hearing are wargame myths not concrete facts. EoTS is a
    strategic game not like all the other Pacific games mentioned (Pacific Fleet,
    Asia Engulfed, East Wind Rain, etc.) an operational game on one map. That is
    what I was going for and that is why I play it. Nimitz never concerned himself
    with air points and wave attacks etc., which are considered the standard for
    this type of game. EoTS goes its own way on purpose and is not everyones cup of
    tea. I am fine with that.

    But I love the debate...

    Mark

    --- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com, Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@...>
    wrote:
    >
    > I think the pinning issue is resolved (at least for me), but what about the
    > oil issue? I see that you argued many times that the cards display the
    > logistical limits on major movements by the Japanese, but it's often the
    > case in EotS that Yamato scurries around reacting to offensives. I find that
    > EotS especially in 1943 is brutally tough on the Allies, mostly one mistake
    > will cost you the game.
    >
    > 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@...>
    >
    > >
    > >
    > > That is the point these days. There are lots of games out there and many
    > > calls upon people's time. The fact that there is an active EoTS group is
    > > much better than most games have these days. Most games generate no long
    > > term enthusiasm so I am glad that EoTs still is actively played. The fact
    > > that a game does not reveal all of its mystery's immediately is a two edged
    > > sword. If it does not catch your fancy you move on because it is too much
    > > effort to play well, if it does you stay with it and the experience doesn't
    > > get old even after many playings. No free lunch there.
    > >
    > > As far as the rules go, people deal with rules of games they want to play.
    > > I break out in hives when I think of ASL rules or most of the more popular
    > > CDGs and just about any of the magazine games. The ones on topics that I am
    > > interested in I deal with, if I am less interested then any set of rules is
    > > too much. My take is we all take in information differently and if a game
    > > has many nuances to add historical richness, which I wanted for EoTS, which
    > > makes the rules more involved. What I find is experienced gamers seem
    > > incapable of following the EoTS sequence of play. All wargames have
    > > sequences of play, so why is this one so hard. It is what it is.
    > >
    > > As far as the wtf moments that you mention regarding 'pinning' of fleets
    > > all I can say is WTF! I wrote an entire monograph that anyone can get on my
    > > website about this very point with all of my research. It would have been
    > > easier to write a rule that states that historically fleets abandoned their
    > > anchorages when they were in range of enemy land based air. Of course then
    > > people would try and get around this rule. Instead I chose to incorporate it
    > > into the system. You do not have to move your fleet back, but if you choose
    > > to ignore the historical facts thats the players business. I just set the
    > > table, but if you want to eat your dessert first, go for it. The monograph
    > > comes with the post war interviews establishing their thinking on this
    > > topic. So, WTF...
    > >
    > > Anyway, Washington's War is appealing to a broader audience due to its
    > > lower complexity. I went out of my way not to make the game more complex,
    > > just more interesting, at least for me. Over time I had issues with WTP that
    > > kept me from playing it. That has now been addressed in Washington's War and
    > > due to its short playing time it gets a lot of play around my house.
    > >
    > > Break, break... One of the annoying things about Yahoo groups is I find it
    > > hard to get to the original message in a thread if it is set within a
    > > subthread etc. So to CV...
    > >
    > > I may be a cheap bastard, but if you had asked, I would have been happy to
    > > send you a copy of Washington's War. One of the unfortunate aspects of my
    > > later years is I have lost the ability to read minds. And if you ever get to
    > > DC, I will buy you dinner.
    > >
    > > Mark
    > >
    > > --- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
    > > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
    > > >
    > > > Thanks for your comments. I think Empire of the Sun suffers a bit due to
    > > the
    > > > fact that there is small group of excellent players giving you feedback
    > > > while leaving out the large rest of the gaming population. I do not doubt
    > > > that EotS is a great brain exercise and therefore, fun for some, but I
    > > fear
    > > > that most of the players like me are put off by the complexity and some
    > > > mechanisms which make sense after a dozen or so playings. Compared to the
    > > > easy approach Washington's War offers, one dreams about a similar playing
    > > > experience with EotS which it simply isn't.
    > > >

    Posted by markherman at 10:45 PM EDT
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    Sunday, 11 January 2009
    Empire of the Sun Combat Model
    Topic: Empire of the Sun

    Design thoughts on what is represented by how losses are distributed to full and reduced strength units. 

     

    Sorry for the delay, but this business year has started at a sprint. This can be an article in c3i and might be at some point, but right now here are the basics.

     

    I cannot emphasize this enough and I know that it causes cognitive dissonance for many wargamers, but geographic position of forces  during an offensive has no, let me say that again, no tactical significance. As Nimitz, you are resourcing an offensive based on JCS guidance (card) and available logistics (activations and range). What you care about is the timing of the offensive (how you sequence the cards), the objectives, and the kinds of forces sent (e.g. mix of carriers, air, surface, and ground forces). Where those forces are on the map to include what they are doing (smothering or involved in the main action) has no game cause and effect relationship. Basically the pieces have to be somewhere and since range via force movement is calculated the location of pieces is mostly a mnemonic to ensure that range calculations are conducted properly.

     

    Just about every 'strategic' Pacific War game on the market or about to be on the market, embeds a mechanism for tactical timing (e.g., first wave air strikes, torpedoes, etc.) and a distinct surface action. I did all of those things in my earlier operational design Pacific War where it was the core of the design. This is based on the emphasis that the available literature places on the big naval battles, which were all carrier battles. But, there were only 6 carrier battles of this scale during the war. The importance of carriers goes way beyond big naval battles handled in EoTS via the air Zone of Influence mechanic. Don't get me wrong, it is loads of fun to re-fight carrier battles, but EoTS as a strategic simulation purposely divorces itself from this misguided hobby tradition.

     

    What the combat model is trying to do, is produce a spectrum of historical losses relative to  your opponents action during an offensive. So for example losing a CVE to a smothering element of an offensive and then hearing that CVEs were not used in that manner, just totally misses the design point. Here I am leveraging player psychology to achieve an historical distribution of losses ala Leyte, without any special rules. In this design, the CVEs are part of the broader offensive and where they are on the map and the dice roll that they are associated with is a mathematical construct to achieve an historical outcome. It is not a statement about historical operational doctrine other than the historical role of smothering operations. I have analyzed every Pacific offensive and the combat system will reproduce all of the historical outcomes in a reasonably painless manner.

     

    The combat system is based on a firepower model that uses effectiveness (total strength) and efficiency (modified die roll outcome) to generate potential damage.  The combat system then uses a hit allocation mechanic to turn potential damage into real damage, but does it to create non-linear outcomes (e.g., inability to score every last hit). The non-linear effects broadly introduce the aggregate effects of air superiority (e.g., carrier and air damage restrictions), doctrine (e.g., JP CVLs), and light naval force losses (e.g., DD losses). It is this last point that bears on the original question that initiated this post.

     

    Every simulation has some level of molecular granularity that you cannot go below. In Pacific War I have individual DD losses, but in EoTS except for a few special small force units (e.g., JP APD Tokyo Express) all of the CLs and DDs are embedded in the larger Capital ship aggregations. One can look at a reduced naval unit as either the loss of one of the Capital ships (e.g,, Yamato/ Mushashi) represented by the piece or the stripping out of the light forces in the piece making the remaining Capital ships both less effective and more vulnerable due to the loss of the screening forces. It really doesn't matter because the full strength/ reduced strength is both representing some loss of capability for a damaged force aggregation and creating a non-linearity for the losses that are realized from any number of applied hits. From a CinC perspective it is a resourcing and force composition issue that is represented by the full and half strength units where the details are below your pay grade to worry about.  

     

    I hope that answers the question...

     

    Mark


    Posted by markherman at 9:59 AM EST
    Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 5:19 PM EST
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    Sunday, 21 December 2008
    What is historical?
    Topic: Empire of the Sun

    A parochial view...

     

    What is strange about the above is that EotS is still in it's FIRST print run; I can't see why it never sold out! 

     

    I appreciate the sentiment and Gene's kind remark, but I have been very disappointed in the sales of this title. The good news is the game has found its audience and unlike many games I believe it has a much better reputation now than when it was originally released. 

     

    I ascribe this to a couple of things, some of it my fault. I think I was too eager to update the rules, which gave the uninformed the impression that the game was less than it could be. A second point revolved around some perceived and real balance issues. The real issues have long ago been dealt with; my upcoming article in C3i 21 should handle the perceived ones. 

     

    Another factor centers on my personal view that as much as gamers want innovation, they do not want it at the expense of what is familiar. Last, some of the 'big' name bloggers who have followings were very aggressive at panning this title. The collection of which led to lackluster sales. 

     

    However, once the pack moved onto the latest and greatest product, those of us who actually play games more than once have been having deep strategy discussions about this title. If CSW topic traffic is an indicator, few titles move much beyond rules questions and then obscurity, many of which have much higher BGG ratings than EoTS. David Dockter and another fellow whose name escapes me did some very interesting analysis on what is actually getting played. 

     

    On the other hand all of the publications that formally reviewed the game were all very positive, plus the game did win a Charlie in Design (thank you Stephen) and Graphics (another GMT graphic team success). 

     

    What I was going for is a game that I want to play repeatedly while still feeling that there was more to learn. As I am slower than the pack, this is easy for me, but nevertheless I continue to enjoy playing this title continuously. I look forward to our next challenge match that will begin in January. 

     

    Happy Holidays, 

     

    Mark

     

     

    Why I do not like EotS that much

     

    Maybe it's time for a different point of view here. I played the game now several times and I have concerns with the game which others shared and still share despite the rules updates. 

     

    First of all: Movement in this game is innovative, but historically unsound. Why? Take our beloved Yamato (or as I call here: The Resurrection Ship with a nod to Battlestar Galactica)...it is usually hovering around the whole pacific, always there, were you do not like it. And the beast takes 18 points to inflict damage, so you better be careful with it. There are other issues with movement of the IJN, but the main beef I have is: lack of oil and/or resource rules in EotS. If the IJN player wants, he can move the forces around like he wants it. 

     

    The only thing he should not do is the historical way: Bunch them up in range of the US Player, which brings me to the second problem: The easy pinning of forces (or as Markus Stumptner called it: the Wonderglue effect) Air fleets can pin down any number of forces in a single hex. So, spreading out is the heart of the game for the IJN player. Mind you, it does not save him from utter destruction in the end, as this almost always is ensured, but it makes for some quite ahistorical gameplay in the years before. 

     

    Third problem: The POW mechanism. Like so many things that sound cool in theory, in practice this leads to the IJN never committing to New Guinea, at least the discussion after the last game showed, why committing to it is often a recipe for desaster. Firstly, all these nice NG hexes are POW hexes if occupied. Secondly, it prolongs the IJN front to a point, where the Allies have easy access. 

     

    Fourth problem: The War in Europe. True, one can recover even from the worst depths of the WiE track as shown during the last game. But with a less than average hand, you are doomed as the Allied player or if you are unlucky with any comebacks. If it happens too early, you are screwed. 

     

    These are just my personal problems I have. Mind you, I had great fun playing EotS as a game and it poses interesting challenges for the players. It even resembles the Pacific War rather closely if you look at it from a high level. The smaller operational subgame, however, lacks due to problem no. 1 and the other (albei smaller) issues I have, make EotS only my second choice compared to Fire in the Sky or Pacific Fleet.

     

    Phil 

     

    Perceptions of what is historical...

     

    Philip, I appreciate your candor and I intend to address your points in sequence. I also want to state that my comments are not intended to be defensive or aggressive, but it is hard to disagree in writing and not make it appear so. I am sure that your comments were directed in a like manner. 

     

    One of the weaker parts of gamer culture is to base ones arguments on something in a wargame as being ahistorical based on ascertain and what other games have done. I am well read and teach these subjects at the graduate school level (adjunct professor at the Naval War College and Georgetown University). So, I do not put things in my games unless I have the facts. They are my interpretation of the data, but it would be strange if I had not thought through all of these issues. 

     

    Movement: I am not sure how to respond to the Yamato concern as that is a player choice and many of the Japanese plans revolved around it use. It spend much of the war outside of Japan, so its use or non-use is a player decision. The comment on its attack-defense strength is context driven and its evocation as the resurrection ship I'll pick up later. The way the combat system works you would end up in two situations with the Yamato (Mushashi). It is full strength with other full strength units, in which case the weaker units will take the hits. It is the only full strength unit in the battle, in which case it has to take 18 hits before any other units take any hits, which is more or less what happened when the USN found it before Leyte as it was the biggest thing in their sights. I would also offer that once it takes one hit (Mushahi lost ala Leyte), the piece is more or less impotent to perform the above roles. 

     

    The resurrection ship comment is a bit of historical drama. It was my view that the Yamato had to be one of the last ships in the Japanese fleet at the end of the game. Given the tough nature of the ship based on how many bombs/ torpedoes it took to sink, I viewed most losses to the unit as severe damage. Also, my knowledge of the design says that at the end of the game CVLs are more useful than the Yamato, so not all of the 6 naval replacements that the JP receive would be used on this unit. The combination of these factors gave me confidence that the Yamato would be around through most of the game as it was historically, but overuse would have its own consequences. 

     

    Within the movement comments is one around ahistorical movement of Japanese fleet elements. Some facts are required here. The Japanese were not short of oil, they were short of refining capacity and the transport oilers to move it to Japan. The Strategic Bombing study covers the oil issue in excruciating detail as you would suspect given the strategic nature of oil. I have examined all of the numbers on barrels per day pumped, refined, transported and the like, so within the Japanse empire there was a surplus of oil, unfortunately not in the right form nor in the right location (Japan). Remember, prior to the war, Indonesia alone would have supplied Japan with more oil than it could use, so once it was captured and the infrastructure damaged by the retreating Dutch units repaired that oil was available. 

     

    However, lack of refining capacity due to damage and the devastation of the always insufficient Japanese oiler units created a shortage of fuel. This is why the fleet was moved to Singapore and Tawi-Tawi to bring the fleet elements closer to the unrefined oil that can be used if one is willing to deal with the maintenance issues, which historically the Japanese did. EoTS uses card activations to handle how much logistics are available (to include ammunition not just oil) to move and fight with. Other games use other viable simplifications to handle this situation, such as oil points or command points (e.g., PacWar). But this raises the second issue around 'ahistorical' movement. 

     

    Although it is true that the Japanese had refined oil issues throughout the war there is a very big difference between cruising from location to location and going to battle. In fact if you do a ship by ship examination of movement, the Japanese navy moved frequently (over any 4 month period of time), just not into battle. In fact if you track the movements of all of the Japanese cruisers and light ships, which is the bulk of their fleet they moved at least several times per turn on various missions to include refits to Japan. 

     

    All of the big fleet elements fought hard in 1942 and then were fairly quiet from a fighting point of view during 1943 that had more to do with the strategic situation and the decimation of the Japanese air units than fuel. However, if you track the big units movements they moved about once per turn to train, refit, and the like even over this period. Based on the historical record, the Japanese shifting their naval forces around in the game is just the historical browning motion that occurred. The fragility and the permanence of loss for most Japanese naval units was the natural governor on how many battles you get to fight in. 

     

    Fleet basing: It is interesting that this point is raised and as I stated in my earlier post about the "big" bloggers views gets brought up here. I wrote an entire monograph on this point that is downloadable from my website on this exact topic. To hear the same ahistorical comment applied once again without any data or historical facts is just a continuance of another urban legend about this game that hurt its initial sales. 

     

    However, there is one additional comment that I would like to make. The idea that the Japanese grouped their fleet into big fleet bases is not entirely accurate. The JP naval order of battle is grouped around naval divisions. So most of the Japanese pieces are grouped in their command organization. Each CA piece is one of the cruiser divisions, BBs etc. The Japanese deployed their major fleet units by division and they were distributed across a number of bases. Even when Truk was the major fleet base, it contained at its height Two Carrier divisions, two BB divisions, and 2 to 3 Cruiser divisions. There were not many locations that had as much except back in Japan where the other BB divisions were located (BB Nagato piece). So, the bottomline is any stack of 3 Japanese naval units, which is normal when I play EoTS constitutes, historically, a major fleet base. Even one naval unit in a hex is a significant fleet concentration. One needs to remember the scale and size of these pieces. 

     

    I would also offer that there are good reasons in EoTS to mass the fleet as when it is dispersed it just gets picked off unit by unit. Which brings up another point about many folks not liking aspects of innovation that are unfamiliar. Location of forces in an empty map design are not absolute. Look at the dispersal of the fleet as a snapshot of where units were reported as they moved (see earlier comment) around. In either case the whole notion of smothering fleet bases has been covered and academically documented by me. If this element bothers you, it is just going to bother you but I disagree that it is ahistorical. 

     

    PoW mechanism: I will make two points here. I am not sure what the comment is here. On one hand the New Guinea strategy from the last game is cited as ahistorical, because it did not work, yet the historical one did not work, so it is ahistorical. Anyway, what I stated earlier about the fact that we are having deep strategy discussions about this title is born out here. I am not convinced that our New Guinea strategy lost us the game, but that is another discussion. My second point is my article in the upcoming C3i 21 has a detailed discussion on why I totally disagree with this comment, so I will just leave it there for now, except to say that I spend several paragraphs showing why this point of view doesn't work in actual game play and why the historical path as supported by the PoW mechanic is a superior strategy in the game. 

     

    WiE: The major factor that effected how the War in the Pacific progressed (e.g., logistics) was the War in Europe. I chose to include it as a factor that the historical commanders had to deal with. It is one of those things that is a matter of taste not history. Everyone has their likes and dislikes and is entitled to them. Which is a good place to end this reply. As you note, you like other Pacific games better and they are fine games, so I am glad that the global marketplace continues to offer choices to satisfy everyones needs. My comments are not directed at saying one design is better than another, but a counter view to the mistaken notion of what is or is not historical in the EoTS wargame design. 

     

    Mark 

     

     

     

    Jay in response to Phil

     

    Third problem: The POW mechanism. Like so many things that sound cool in theory, in practice this leads to the IJN never committing to New Guinea, at least the discussion after the last game showed, why committing to it is often a recipe for desaster. 

     

    I've played this game as much as anyone and I don't agree with this view. When the game was first published, the PoW mechanism was much more challenging for the US and it was a vehicle Japan could pursue to win. But with the V2.0 of the rules, the PoW mechanism functions more to make the US spend ASPs each turn and capture bases instead of focusing exclusively on raiding. 

     

    In the several games I've played, whether Japan takes NG or not does not determine if the US makes PoW. All it does is dictate where the US will make PoW. If not in NG, then in the Marshalls or DEI or central Pacific. When Japan concedes the Solomons and NG, then the US "jump-off" point for the counter-offensive starts closer to Japan and since the invasion of Japan is a matter of "when" not "if", this gives the US a big advantage. 

     

    Fourth problem: The War in Europe. True, one can recover even from the worst depths of the WiE track as shown during the last game. But with a less than average hand, you are doomed as the Allied player or if you are unlucky with any comebacks. If it happens too early, you are screwed. 

     

    I think Japan getting a poor hand on turns 2 and 3 impact the game much more than the WiE mechanism. The WiE is only a viable path to victory if Japan draws 2 or more WiE cards in a turn in turns 2 to 4. Outside of that, the WiE is a bit of fool's gold for Japan. It looks like it will win you the game but if you pursue it without thought, you will lose more than you will win. To me the WiE mechanism is really a "random scenario generator" (with some player interaction since Japan doesn't have to play WiE as events) that make each game unique. 

     

    Your first two points are more on the "tactical" aspects of the game and in strategic games, there has to be some level of tactics (forces have to move and fight)--how you rationalize those is often a matter of intepretation and there will be some games that have mechanics that you can't rationalize. At that point, I agree that it is hard to play a game if what is going on doesn't make sense to you. 

     

    What I like most about EoTS compared to other strategic level Pacific games is how the cards dictate operations. In turn based games, each side takes turns sending out all their offensive operations at once and this means that units can only participate in one offensive per turn. It also tends to mean that you focus on massing your fleets for big offensives so the other guy can't react in such a way to get a big local advantage. In EoTS though, there are several offensives over the course of the turn--some big, some small and some in between. And some turns there are hardly any at all. You don't get this variation in other games. 

     

    I think why EoTS is not as popular as FTP, Wilderness War, WtP, TS, etc. is 1) that it is really a combination of a hex game and a card game and 2) that it takes 12+ hours or 6 months (PBEM) to play the campaign. 

     

    I think FTP and the others are popular because they are not hex games--they are not as complicated (this is seens as benefit), players can focus on a few high level decisions (that are often hard) and they, frankly, these types of games were new to the hobby when they came out 10-15 years ago. So the hardcore CDG are not as apt to take on EoTS. Likewise, the hardcore hex-based gamers are not as apt to take on a CDG so in effect, EoTS by spanning both types of games, limits its audience to gamers who go for both types. 

     

    The other big reason is play time. If you want a popular game, it has to play quick given people's lifestyles today. Longer games will appeal to a niche audience but to get the level of sales of say TS, the game has to play quickly.

     

     

    Phillip 

    Thanks Mark for your very deep answer. I will have to read it more carefully (no time right now)...thanks again!



    Posted by markherman at 10:53 AM EST
    Updated: Sunday, 21 December 2008 10:55 AM EST
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    Tuesday, 29 January 2008
    Strategic Level Games
    Topic: Empire of the Sun
    Strategic level games...

    As demonstrated by my game last night with Jim A., this is the game that I play more than any other. I find that the games plays reasonably well as a solo game, which is how I play it most of the time.

    A one map game that covers a large portion of the globe is usually considered a strategic level game. I would say that most one map Pacific games that I have played are really operational level games using a large map scale. This is not a criticism, but a common feature derived from having played practically every title in this category ever published. I have enjoyed most of them and still play some of them on a regular basis.

    The one common feature of them was their incorporation of carrier/ naval battle tactical features into the design. One of the myths of our hobby is the Pacific War was dominated by the carrier battle, so this makes sense. The problem is there were only 6 carrier battles during the war (Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, Guadalcanal, Santa Cruz, Philippine Sea). Carriers were the critical element in projecting offensive naval power, but it was land based air that drove strategic decisions during the war.

    As Andy B. correctly summarized, at the strategic level, the key constraints are logistics (cards) and how to advance ones air power to achieve strategic objectives. The terms 'battle' actually represents a series of engagements in most cases culminating in an amphibious assault or a ground advance that enables ones air power to displace forward.

    The perspective that I was trying to build into the design was the theater commander getting broad guidance from the Joint Chiefs authorizing certain levels of activity. The player has to succeed within the context of that guidance and associated logistic support that the authorized level of activity comes with. At one level, you are in control of where you go next, but within a resource/ guidance constrained environment.

    Just some thoughts on a Friday night,

    Mark

    Posted by markherman at 7:37 PM EST
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    Australia
    Topic: Empire of the Sun
    Its a long way to Tip a Wari...

    Okay, convince me how what we are seeing is not an indictment of the realism of this game? Historically Japan did not possess anything like the logistical capacity to invade Australia. This is just as bad as Bulge games where the Germans always run wild in the north.


    I am not trying to convince you of anything, but here is what I was thinking when I allowed for this specific option in the design. There are three points here, the current game situation, history and the design.

    In this game Darwin is a bit undermanned as the location starts the game with a Corps not a reduced Brigade. So, the risk was taken and accepted by the Japanese.

    Historically, the Japanese were not capable of taking all of Australia, which is reflected in the rules that Australian units do not leave play if the Northern coast of the country is captured. On the other hand, the Japanese did contemplate neutralizing Australia by conquering the Northern portion of the country (the part of Australia on the map). The Japanese did put a serious effort into capturing Moresby (e.g., Coral Sea and Kokoda Trail offensive) as they wanted to isolate Australia from US aid, which was the impetus for their plans in this area. Darwin in particular was vulnerable to Japanese attack and was on a couple of occasions subjected to Japanese air strikes. The Japanese Kido Butai operated in the area in the early part of the war giving them naval superiority, so it was only a matter of will not opportunity that they didn't invade Darwin.

    From a design perspective this is another path not taken, although what might have happened if Port Moresby had fallen early in the war is anyone's guess. As the Japanese did seriously look at the option I put it in the game. I did make sure that this was not a free lunch. By displacing an HQ forward the Japanese with some effort (a card or two) can extend their logistic network to enable a serious offensive toward Australia or Hawaii. On the other hand this kind of HQ (logistic) re-orientation both precludes the other option and creates weaknesses in other portions of the Japanese position.

    My critieria for including something like this in a design is was it possible? Was it contemplated by one side and feared by the other. My view on all three is yes and why it is in EoTS.

    Enjoy, Mark

    Posted by markherman at 7:33 PM EST
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